Over the course of the past 3.5 years, I have embarked on an intense wine-tasting journey that has allowed me the privilege of tasting wines from all over the world. In that time, I have grown my appreciation for Old-World wines from Europe that have really revamped my palate in many areas and at the same time have helped make me a “more well-rounded” wine lover.
One of the things that I started to ponder was the sense of Old-World snobbery that I have seen fans of that style portray onto the folks who prefer a New-World style. What I’ve come to the conclusion of – and I’m grossly generalizing here – is that Old-World wine drinkers tend to be snobs and have a sense of disdain for those who tend to favor New-World.
I know this first-hand because I have caught myself, on a number of occasions, getting caught-up into that Old-World snobbery- it’s an ego thing really so I have really started to try my best to work on that and be able to appreciate the fact that people from all walks of life have certain biases towards certain flavor profiles.
Old-world people tend to like to brag about how their palate is “so much more educated” – well that’s just wrong – all it means is that you prefer wines that aren’t over-oaked, over-extracted and have a bit of that “funk” in your glass. It does not make you better, smarter or more “well-rounded” than anyone else.
On the flip-side, there seems to be a huge amount of wine-lovers who prefer New-World and seem to put on the outfit of “Captain Clueless” when it comes to being able to appreciate a wine that isn’t over-extracted a fruit-bomb or has too much oak. For the sake of my points here, I say they are “newbs” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is what it is.
New-world drinkers seem to be the more picky of the bunch and tend to be more afraid to take risks, be adventurous in their wine-drinking are find themselves being the bane of old-world lovers – in fact, if it wasn’t for this group of people, wineries like Yellowtail wouldn’t be in business.
What we need to do is find a way to bridge the gap – we need to find a way to, first of all embrace our own palate and secondly to expand our horizons. If we can learn to do this then we”ll find that we’ll arrive to a place of wine-loving that allows us to see the benefit of each style, even if it’s not our own personal preference.
Old-World drinkers need to stop being so pompous and New-World fans need to open up, be more adventurous and admit that perhaps there is life beyond Kendall Jackson Chardonnay.
Definition of Old-World and New-World per Wikipedia:
Old World wine refers primarily to wine made in Europe but can also include other regions of the Mediterranean basin with long histories of winemaking such as North Africa and the Near East. The phrase is often used in contrast to “New World wine” which refers primarily to wines from New World wine regions such as the United States, Australia, South America and South Africa. The term “Old World wine” does not refer to a homogeneous style with “Old World wine regions” like Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain each making vastly different styles of wine even within their own borders. Rather, the term is used to describe general differences in viticulture and winemaking philosophies between the Old World regions where tradition and the role of terroir lead versus the New World where science and the role of the winemaker are more often emphasized. In recent times, the globalization of wine and advent of flying winemakers have lessened the distinction between the two terms with winemakers in one region being able to produce wines that can display the traits of the other region—i.e. an “Old World style” wine being produced in a New World wine region like California or Chile and vice versa.